Do you know where you “are” presently? No, I don’t mean in your sales manager’s office or at the AIMExpo in Orlando. I am interrogating you from a business perspective, not a geographic one.
Many dealers “feel” they are headed in the right direction, yet they don’t have a firm grip on retail reality, financial feasibility or statistical strength. Are you profitable here and now? Really? How would you know… or is the fancy car in your parking space proof enough to your non-inquiring mind?
No insult intended here, but you would be surprised at just how many dealers have no clue where they are, fiscally speaking. If you don’t have a great grasp of current affairs in your business or the rapidly changing industry around you, there isn’t much hope for changing direction to get you to the next level of success. Unfortunately the path to success is never a straight, level or comfortable road. It’s entirely possible that you don’t know where you “are” now, which makes it impossible for you to envision the next level. Instead, you are working too much “in” your business instead of “on” your business.
It’s easy to get pulled down into the minutiae and dysfunction of everyday life, especially when your smart phone is beeping and buzzing all the latest personal and world news directly to your palm. High level importance is all too often sacrificed for lower levels of urgency. Are the multiple phone texts from buddies or the NFL newsfeed to your palm really as important as the “big picture” of your business? Really? Re-prioritize or die!
One of the best cures for what an industry friend used to call “rectal myopia” is to get your backside to a national level tradeshow. See what other dealers are seeing… and learning! Listen to what aftermarket manufacturers are saying about their new products. Better still, see what the competing OEMs have to say. Knowledge is power and done right, the tradeshow experience can yield some pretty powerful results.
Staying “stuck” in your own backyard will certainly keep you fat and dumb, but probably not happy in the long run. Times are a changin’ a lot faster than you know, so it’s time to move away from your comfort zone. Move fast and move to where the news – national, international, aftermarket and OEM – is happening. Tradeshows such as AIMExpo in Orlando is the epicenter… so where “are” you now? year to see the State of Idaho was there, not only promoting motorcycling and UTV/ATV tourism, but also an accommodating business environment. I learned something new every day at AIMExpo and now I want to move my business to Idaho.
OEMs mix it up with big distributors at this show. Cottage industry start-ups are staged nearby to the mega-monsters of manufacturing. Innovation, power, stability, creativity, convenience, uniqueness – it’s all there in one form or another. There is even a Lee Rocker concert on Saturday night and two show days for retail consumers… which might just be the icing on the cake if you want to see how “they” relate to what’s new. See it. Touch it. Talk to industry insiders. Interview and observe consumers. Feed off their excitement so you can “bottle it” and take it back to your store. Aren’t you ready for a fresh infusion of “what’s new?”
Do any of these Venn Diagrams (above) ring true for you? Then get out more. Go visit a national tradeshow for new ideas and fresh input.
Perhaps a racing metaphor will make it more clear to you. How long have you been “cherry picking” the local racetrack? Isn’t it time for you to try out some new tracks and fields of competition for the purposes of self-improvement? If you don’t get out of your comfort zone soon, then be ready for somebody else to show up at your local track from the outside… and kick your butt into the stratosphere. Get out of your comfort zone! That’s where you go from here!
The long-running Confessions of a Customer™ is one of columnist Eric Anderson’s commitments to the industry, which includes his retail sales training efforts and service to the MIC Board of Directors. He has built several well-known aftermarket brands and is the founder of Vroom Network, an industry-specific consulting company specializing in marketing, training and brand development.